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American Originals: Novellas and Stories

Tracy Daugherty

The novellas and stories in American Originals convey the power of the West Texas desert to swallow people—literally, or through the rituals of labor, or through the raptures of ecstatic vision, induced by blessings or madness—and people’s ability to forge connections in spite of extreme conditions. Each piece in this thematically-linked collection assumes a unique shape, whether poetically compressed, echoing (only to break) the contours of mystery stories, or redolent of the forms of classical prayer. The Texas of AMERICAN ORIGINALS becomes the landscape of strife and hope, struggle and love, lost and found.      

The characters in the stories and novellas here learn, sometimes the hard way, the truth of T. S. Eliot's insight that the "end of all our exploring" in life is to "arrive where we started" and to know, for the first time, who we really are. Saints and sinners, and the blurred lines between them, drive these spare narratives set in the plains and deserts of Texas.  


 

[Daugherty's fiction] "leaves us dry-eyed and wiser in that place far beyond tears that we know from our own lives."--Shelby Hearon

 

"Daugherty combines the serious and literary with the funny and offbeat, resulting in sparkle-plenty prose with an ear for dialogue that never fails."--Beverly Lowry

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American Salvage

Bonnie Jo Campbell

A lush and rowdy collection of stories set in a rural Michigan landscape, where wildlife, jobs, and ways of life are vanishing.

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The American Shore

Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch—“Angouleme”

Samuel R. Delany

The American Shore: Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch—“Angouleme” was first published in 1978 to the intense interest of science fiction readers and the growing community of SF scholars. Recalling Nabokov’s commentary on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Roland Barthes’ commentary on Balzac’s Sarazine, and Grabinier’s reading of The Heart of Hamlet, this book-length essay helped prove the genre worthy of serious investigation. The American Shore is the third in a series of influential critical works by Samuel R. Delany, beginning with The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and Starboard Wine, first published in the late seventies and reissued over the last five years by Wesleyan University Press, which helped win Delany a Pilgrim Award for Science Fiction Scholarship from the Science Fiction Research Association of America. This edition includes the author’s corrected text as well as a new introduction by Delany scholar Matthew Cheney.

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American Standard

by John Blair

Winner of the 2002 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. It is difficult to see what lurks beneath the surface of a muddy river, an alligator-infested lake, or a John Blair short story. The deep currents that drive a demure, devout, church-going woman to shoot her husband; the ripple effect of a midnight rendezvous at church youth camp that goes slightly—then horribly—askew; the sinkholes that can swallow Porsche dealerships—or marriages; what is dredged up in American Standard cannot easily be forgotten. Set mostly in central Florida, Blair’s stories are filled with people living lives of disquieting longing and stubborn isolation. For them, this is the American standard, as ubiquitous and undistinguished as vitreous china bathroom fixtures.

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The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company

Jay Neugeboren

The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company is an enchanting tale set in the silent film era.  Beginning in 1915, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where a Jewish family makes one and two reel silent films, the novel is composed of six chapters, each a discrete silent film in itself.

Joey, the too-beautiful-to-be-a-boy son of moviemaker, Simon, and his actress wife, Hannah, imagines stories that his uncle’s camera turns into scenes for their movies. Witness to and participant in the rapid technological advances in film, from the movies his family makes, to the advent of the talkies, Joey is cast in both male and female roles, onstage and off.  When the woman Joey loves murders her abusive husband and sends Joey from his New Jersey family disguised as the mother of her own children, he embarks on a cross-country journey of adventure and hardship, crossing paths with the likes of D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, and “Roxy” Rothafel.  Finally, reunited on the opposite coast with his uncle, and with the woman he has never stopped loving, Joey’s wild journey—and life!—arrive at a moment as unpredictable as it is magical.

In an outrageously original tale worthy of a studio whose moguls might have been Kafka, Garcia Marquez, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, reality and illusion merge and separate, leaving the audience spellbound even after the final curtain falls.

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An American Tune

A Novel

Barbara Shoup

While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the '60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An American Tune moves back and forth in time, telling the story of Jane, a girl from a working-class family who fled town after she was complicit in a deadly bombing, and Nora, the woman she became, a wife and mother living a quiet life in northern Michigan. An achingly poignant account of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.

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Among The Wild Mulattos and Other Tales

Tom Williams

Set in the suburbs and cities of the Midwest, Mid-South, and Texas, these stories explore the lives of characters biracial, black, white, and all sorts of in-between. The intersections and collisions of contemporary life are in full effect here, where the distinctions between fast food and fine art, noble and naked ambitions, reality and reality shows have become impossible to distinguish. Read these stories and understand why Steve Yarbrough said Williams “writes like Paul Auster if he were funnier or like Stanley Elkin might have if he’d ever been able to stop laughing.”

" Tom Williams has done the near impossible in penning a book that is both undeniably entertaining and deeply thoughtful, Millhauser meets Bukowski meets Ellison." --Alan Heathcock, author of Volt

“Sure, we need the nudge of category to help us all think straight, but we also need the rangy trickster, Tom Williams, to do the bang-up boundary work of imaginary anthropology in these deadpan dead-on gems. These infiltrating texts take us sideways, through and through, turn us inside-out.” . --Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Four for a Quarter
 

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Anadarko

A Kiowa Country Mystery

Tom Holm

Anadarko, a small bootlegger town in Oklahoma’s Kiowa Country, shakes off its sleepy veneer when J.D. Daugherty, an Irish ex-cop turned private eye, and Hoolie Smith, a Cherokee war veteran, show up to investigate the mysterious disappearance of oilman and geologist Frank Shotz.

J.D. and Hoolie find their simple missing person case hides a web of murder, graft, and injustice tied to a network of bootleggers with links to the Ku Klux Klan. Set in the aftermath of the violent Tulsa race riot of 1921, Anadarko reveals a deadly and corrupt town filled with a toxic cocktail of booze, greed, and bigotry.

Tackling racial prejudice head-on, author Tom Holm expertly weaves a vivid and suspenseful tale set in Prohibition-era Indian Country. This gritty whodunit shows nothing is ever simple in the fight between good and evil.

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Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith

A Diptych

Stark and vibrant, the two halves of this sutured book expose the Frankenstein-like scars of the assemblage we call “human.”
 
In “Another Governess” a woman in a decaying manor tries to piece together her own story. In “The Least Blacksmith” a man cannot help but fail his older brother as they struggle to run their father’s forge. 
 
Each of the stories stands alone, sharing neither characters nor settings. But together, they ask the same question: What are the wages of being? The relentless darkness of these tales is punctured by hope—the violent hope of the speaking subject.

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Anteaters Don't Dream and Other Stories

Louise Hawes

In Anteaters Don't Dream and Other Stories, Louise Hawes deftly portrays lovers at the end of their patience, marriages on the verge of decline, children reeling from abuse, and parents devastated by loss.

But many of these stories have a sardonic, humorous edge as well: in the title story, a jaded architect learns to take his dream life more seriously when a female co-worker threatens his career. In "Mr. Mix Up," a mother becomes infatuated with the clown at her son's birthday party. In "My Last Indian," a menopausal woman goes native. And in "Salinger's Mistress," a young woman lies about having an affair with J. D. Salinger. . . until Salinger himself calls her on the phone!

Whether Hawes's protagonists are rich or poor, male or female, young or old, their voices are convincing, varied, and human. With equal portions of wit and pathos, Anteaters Don't Dream and Other Stories is a versatile collection by a remarkable prose stylist.

Louise Hawes is a writer and teacher based in Pittsboro, North Carolina. She is the author of The Vanishing Point, Rosey in the Present Tense, and other novels.

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